Taking as form the form of no-form,
Going or returning, he is ever at home.
Taking as thought the thought of no-thought,
Singing and dancing, all is the voice of truth.
THE SONG OF MEDITATION
Like the previous lines, these describe the state of realization. It is perhaps comparatively easy to reach the state where cause and effect are one; the realization of the universe as Sameness comes from that knowledge which is fundamental to man from the beginning. But the important thing is to go on from there, and through the other knowledge, which manifests after satori, we are to see the differences of form once more, and undertake the salvation of all. It is not simply a question of having satori and waking up from a dream. The aim is to wake up and then be active. This is a specially important point which is frequently misunderstood. If Zen is practised to get realization for one’s own release from the sufferings of birth and death and right and wrong, it is not the Zen of Mahayana. The aim must be to take a jump beyond realization, or in the Zen phrase, to take one step more from the top of the hundred-foot pole, and return to this world to extend the hand of compassion to all that lives. Traditionally, great stress has always been laid on the practice undertaken after satori, the so- called maturing in the holy womb. In this sense, the upward-looking path is rather the means of Zen, and the downward-returning path is the goal.
There is the same idea in the Pure Land sect. Higher than those who sacrifice their accumulated merit that others may attain the Pure Land are the ones who, having attained the Pure Land, return to human birth to bring others there.
Many people in the world suppose the purpose of life is simply to be successful and make a name for themselves, but it is a great error. What to do after that, after achieving success and fame? The problem is to find the ultimate goal of human life. To those who are wholly devoted to success, and still more to those who are about to achieve it, who are on the crest of the wave, I would say this: “If this success is the goal of life, then consider how afterwards you will have to endure the grief of the inevitable decline.”
Be not too proud!
For the fullness of the moon Is but a single night.
We should lay it to heart. The goal of human life is not what the world calls success. If we use the strength and virtue that give worldly success for a goal transcending the world, we can attain immortality. The purpose of life can be fulfilled only in this way.
The essence of the supreme liberation of the Zen path and training is the Samadhi of sport. After the gate opens and cause and effect are one, they take as form the form of no-form, and going or returning there is nowhere not their home. First the distinctions of illusion are left for the Sameness of realization, but then in that Sameness, if a man falls into not seeing cause and effect at all, the Sameness itself ends by becoming an illusion. Food and dung are the same to him; he becomes a Zen demon who swallows up heaven and earth. But if he continues in the practice of seeking the original face, there is no danger of falling into the wrong Sameness, and he can take a further step, from Sameness to the distinctions again. As the text says, he takes the form which is no-form as form.
In the non-duality chapter of the Vimalakirti Sutra, a Bodhisattva named True-sighted explains form and noform from the highest point of view. Some think that the statements, “all things are one form” and “all things are of no form,” are entirely opposed, but in fact all phenomena, having no determined self-nature, are born and die in accordance with karma-associations and so are fundamentally the void. They are without form and also with form. With a form, because without form; without form because with a form—in this way he explains the doctrine of noform and no-limitation.
The text speaks of the form of no-form. Generally in Buddhism the word “form” means all forms, everything that is perceived, and we are warned that these are temporary manifestations of an illusory character. They are all classified under the four: origination, continuance, change, and destruction, or in popular language, birth, age, illness, and death. The world and the things in it first originate, then continue for a certain time, then change, and finally perish. So everything passes through the four states between its beginning and end. As to human beings, first they are born, then they become older, then fall ill, then die, so passing through birth, age, illness, and death. These states are called “form.” This is all from the standpoint of distinctions, and when the state of realization is entered, we come to see them as Sameness, in other words the true “noform.” Here the form is no-form. But if we cling to that very no-form, inevitably it becomes just as much an illusory view as the form. For a realized man to cling to his satori is like a kind of illusion. There is one more step to take, so that the form again appears out of the no-form; the form is no-form, and the no-form is the form. It is not a satori of absolute Sameness. By the practice of Zen meditation we can go from form into no-form, and then from noform into form. The supreme satori is that the state of noform, where all is the void and one Sameness, should be at the same time the state of distinct forms where there are mountains and there are rivers, and yet that we should not be deluded by the distinctions. The lines, “In that not-a- single-thing is an inexhaustible treasure; there are blossoms, there is the moon, there are towers,” refer to the form of no-form.
In this state the stream in the valley is His great tongue, the colours of the mountain are His pure body, as Sotoba says in his poem. When he realizes that going or coming he is ever at home, then there is no hell to fear or paradise to gain. The mountains, rivers, grass, trees, the whole earth as it is, are the radiant Pure Land. Tears and smiles both are manifestations of the voice of truth. That peace of the heart cannot be spoken; it is the state of heaven itself.
Having grasped the phrase about the form of no-form, we can understand in the same way what he means by the thought of no-thought. Thought here means all our delusive discriminating; in other words, wrong thinking. When wrong thinking is abandoned there is right mindfulness (shorten), which is the technical word for the sixth of the eight steps of Buddha’s eightfold path. Right mindfulness or right thought (shonen) is pure without any distraction, and so it is also called no-thought (munen). From this nothought we must again enter thought, but now free from illusion People think that munen or no-thought is to be like a dead tree, entirely without mental activity, but it is quite wrong. Munen or no-thought never means to become a mere stone, but it means to stay in shonen, right thought or right mindfulness. In that shonen when the thoughts of distinctions arise, “in spring, the flowers; in autumn, the moon; in summer, the breeze; in winter, the snow; if in the serenity of the heart there is no attachment, all seasons are well.” It is freedom and bliss; singing and dancing all are the voice of truth. It is the Samadhi of yuge or sport. The word means literally to sport or play, and the sense is that just as in play we do as we will, without forcing the mind, so this Samadhi is spontaneous action for the liberation of all.
There are people who do a little practice (and in particular dabble in Zen) and before attaining any spiritual light jump up without thinking at all and come out with pointless big words and fine phrases. They go in for every kind of oddity to show how different they are and think carelessness and unreliability are spiritual freedom. Wit they pass off as enlightenment and frivolity as detachment; they specialize in speaking and acting as if mad. This company of clowns cannot be mentioned in the same breath with the spiritually enlightened who “take for thought the thought of no-thought.”
Long ago in China, to Zen Abbot Kosen came a man, a dabbler in Zen, to show off his attainments. Punning on the abbot’s name, which can mean “flour,” he asked: “Is it wheat flour or rice flour?” The abbot unconcernedly replied: “Try and see.” The man lifted up his voice in a roar in imitation of the shout employed by some Zen masters, but the master only said: “Haven’t you a cough, haven’t you a cough!” and patted him on the back. There are many half-baked ones of this kind today also.
Master Rinzai tells us that spiritual power means to be able to enter the world of forms yet not be subjected to the delusion of forms, and so with scents and tastes and the rest; when one knows they are all empty, they cannot bind him. Again he explains that such a one entering fire is not burned, entering water is not wetted, and if he enters hell it is like sporting in a garden. For him, singing and dancing is all the voice of truth; standing or sitting he is always in conformity with the right—that is the spiritual state of the truly enlightened.
The water-bird in its path leaves no track
Yet it never forgets the way.
Such is the Samadhi of sport, or the Samadhi of spiritual manifestation. All lives that can be called really holy are of this kind: perfectly harmonious, free from all restrictions, and yet lives of selfless action overflowing with compassion.
A great example is the life of Hakuin, who in his eighty- four years dominated the spiritual world. With his speech and writing, he “entered the city with open hands’* in the Samadhi of sport. A master of the school which does not take its stand on letters, he was yet rich in words, and his literary production was immense, particularly in the field of the popularization of Zen. Of course he left many technical works, sermons, poems, and hymns, but at the same time he taught the Way by means of popular songs, by everyday conversation, by writings in the colloquial language, by working songs, songs of the Way, and “wild songs.” Among the writings in the popular language is the Song of Meditation itself, a masterpiece famous then and now. His pictures were innumerable, many of them strange by ordinary standards and not a few flouting convention, but today they are preserved as treasures in many families. In training disciples he was supreme, and they flocked to him from all quarters. Round his grave at Shoinji temple are the graves of disciples who happened to fall ill and die before completing their training; there are scores of them. Among many spiritual lights produced by him, Abbot Zuio and Abbot Torei can be called his two holy pillars. Both attained the Samadhi of sport and illumined life— going or coming, they were yet ever at home.
Through his pictures and writings we can glimpse Haku- in’s spiritual sport and freedom. Tokutomi Soho says of them: “Abbot Hakuin’s pictures of Bodhidharma are selfportraits. The Chinese characters of his calligraphy, sometimes like old ropes, sometimes wormlike scrawls, sometimes like knots of bracken, are pictures of the mind. Though the forms are so different, without exception they reflect something of the abbot himself. From the productions of his brush the abbot can be known, and again no one who does not know the abbot can fully appreciate his pictures and writings.” These are penetrating remarks.
Hakuin drew a picture of a beggar, and on it wrote a poem: “Whoever it may be, if when young he is a wastrel, squanders his money, and finally is disloyal to his parents, then that young master ends like me, with his stomach empty and racked with hunger. Can you spare a copper?’’ Surely to the tramps of today such a poem will be bitter to hear.
On a picture of the fishermen who go out with cormorants at night with a fire to attract the fish:
The fire of the cormorant fishers is truly
The fire of hell before you. Beware! Beware!
On a picture of the magic hammer of the god Daikoku, which grants prosperity:
The hammer strikes and endless treasures appear—it is a lie!
This is the hammer to smash the arrogance of wealth.
He painted a picture of Hotei, a god of fortune, holding out one hand and saying: “O young people! Whatever you say, unless you hear the sound of one hand you are only skinfuls of nothing!” Whatever you learn, whatever you know, while you cannot hear the soundless sound of heaven and earth, it is all meaningless. A poem in praise of the round Daruma (Bodhidharma) doll, which is weighted so that however much it is rolled over it always comes upright at last:
Giving up good and bad,
He comes upright in the end,
The little priest!
On a picture of Abbot Ikkyu holding a skull:
On a picture of Hotei and another of the gods of fortune ladling out rice wine:
Happiness! To sit leaning Against the pillar
With congenial friends,
And hear the clink of cupsl
What a human feeling there is in this poem! A man wrote a verse questioning whether there is a next world or not, and Hakuin replied with another verse:
Does the next world exist or not?
’Tis indeed a maze.
None knows but the asker himself. Go and seek him! (You have lived before, and this is the life after death.) Who else is to decide the question? This is his counter-question. A poem on the pangs of separation:
Even at the first meeting there is already the future separation.
Would there were one to stay with us always like a shadow!
What is there, he asks, which we can have with us for ever and never lose? The poem to a tea-ladle is this:
It passes through the cold hells and the burning hells,
But it has no mind and does not suffer,
The tea ladle!
This is the great Zen meditation: “when the mind functioning ceases, fire itself is cool.” To the woman disciple O-san he sent a drawing of a hossu whisk (see Plate 4) and a broom, with the Chinese poem:
The three sages and their tiger asleep together,
And snoring like thunder!
When hearing it, understanding dawns,
Kanzan and Jittoku come again.
(Kanzan and Jittoku are two of the three famous wild sages referred to.) To this she replied:
The broom to sweep away the thorns of worldly wrong thinking—
Who can compare with Hakuin of Harajuku!
There are some children’s riddles entitled “The Village Headman’s House, Its Fortune and Lineage”:
What is like the honest carpenter’s work?
The village headman. Why?
Because he whittles away the mura. (Mura means “unevenness” but also “village.”)
And what is like a ripe fruit deep in the mountains?
That headman’s house. Why?
Because it perishes altogether and is lost in oblivion.
If people took the song to heart, the prosperity of their line would be assured. It does not apply only to that old village headman.
On his picture of the god Daikoku (god of fortune, whose name also means “black”) he wrote:
His stature is short,
His colour is black,
But how touching his smiling face!
True it is. There is a picture of the mice in meditation round a human teacher, and on it:
The teacher of the mice one day held up a mallet and preached his sermon:
((Let any cat’s head come, and I will strike the cat’s head!” By Hakuin’s creative inspiration the Zen master becomes a teacher of mice, and the coming of enlightenment is changed to the cat’s head. Again he has a picture of mice wrestling and on it written:
In the breast of each of us
Are two mice, one black and one white.
The white one is of white deeds and right mind,
The black of black deeds and evil thoughts.
Black and white are always struggling Like a pair of wrestlers.
If the white wins—oh noble!
All adversity is converted into fortune;
The right actions, the ten virtues, are all his;
The three bodies and four wisdoms [of the Buddha] are assured.
If the black wins—oh base!
All luck is converted into bane;
The seeds of prajna-wisdom are chewed and destroyed;
The holy fruit ofbodhi is consumed utterly.
From but one wrong thought,
We incur immeasurable and endless sufferings.
Not only in this life the harm,
But in long future lives we suffer dumbly.
As ghosts, as brutes, ox and horse, we shall suffer,
Our life dragging on through the lower worlds.
The god of fortune, though his name is Black,
Yet hates the black. Take heed, O people!
On a picture of Bodhidharma:
Journeying in Chinese Gi and Ryo,
You transmitted the Seal of the Heart;
Sporting in Japanese Kai and Shinano,
I have reviled your Zen.
The doctrine you brought from the West Has been scattered like dust;
Your spiritual children of the Eastern Sea Are dissolved as salt in water.
Hakuin brushed the Chinese character “death” on a hanging scroll, and to it wrote a poem:
O young people, if death is hateful, die now!
Dying this once, you will never die again.
The sorrow and bitterness of this world will become happiness.
You are called samurai. Should you not be ready to die?
Despite brave words, the samurai who has not died this once,
When the crisis comes will flee away or hide.
The feudal lord gives you silk clothes and white rice
So that he can rely on you in that hour.
Even a blade by a master swordsmith,
if the samurai does not realize he has it,
Is of as little use as if girded on a midwife.
He who has once died in the depths of the navel—
The spear of the master spearman cannot touch him.
He who dying while yet alive carries out his duties—
The arrow of the master archer is nothing to him.
The samurai who has passed away deep in the navel circle
Finds no enemy in all the world.
Throw away all, die and see—
The god of death and his demons stand bewildered.
In the field of the elixir at the navel, meditate on the Lord of the mind and see—
At once all is perfection, living paradise.
Though one know how to rest firm in virtue,
If he cannot meditate, he has not yet attained.
Meditation is the inmost secret of the knightly way;
While yet you live, practise meditation.
Do not meditate only hidden in a dark corner,
But meditate always, standing, sitting, moving, and resting.
When your meditation continues throughout waking and sleeping,
Wherever you are is heaven itself.
After practising thirty or forty years
We can know that we have meditated a little.
Though one boast: “I have died,” if he shows selfishness he is yet unenlightened;
Loyalty to superiors, love and reverence to parents.
Though one boast: “I am enlightened,” if he is heartless to living beings,
He falls to the demon world—so says the holy word of Kasuga.
We have looked at one aspect of the Samadhi of sport; its taste is something to be savoured in tranquillity. We have seen how the blissful sport is itself great teaching and enlightenment. We too should perform our daily duties in the Samadhi of sport, in bliss and fearlessness, and then our life will be a direct help to society and to the country.